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Nastasia’s star is shining bright as she takes lead role in Annie

Last update - Thursday, May 7, 2009, 00:43 By Viktor Posudnevsky

Nastasia Vashko has beaten thousands of other contestants to land the title role in the Irish version of hit musical Annie.

The 11-year-old rising star, who was born to a Ukrainian family, is contemplating a career on Broadway or the West End, she tells Metro Éireann.
“It’s one of my favourite musicals and I knew all the songs since I was a small kid,” says Nastasia of Annie – a hit show that was first launched on Broadway in the 1970s and went on to become one of the best-loved children’s musicals worldwide.
Its first-ever Irish production will premiere in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre this summer before moving on to Cork Opera House.
Finding a young talent suitable to play the main protagonist – the red-haired freckled orphan Annie – proved one of the biggest challenges for the producers of the Irish show. Thousands of young girls auditioned for the role, but only 60 made the longlist. Nastasia survived to join nine other contestants on RTE Radio’s Mooney Show before the judges finally selected her for the part.
“For now this is her biggest achievement,” said her father, Konstantin Vashko. “But it’s also a big burden because for the next three months Nastia will have to work very hard.”
The family emigrated from Kiev, Ukraine to Ireland in the 1990s “for political reasons”, says Konstantin. Nastasia was born in Ireland in 1997, and when she was three months old the family moved to Limerick where Konstantin started Docucentre, a digital printing business.
“We tried to develop Nastia in all directions,” said Konstantin of his only child. “Since the age of four she is involved in singing, playing the piano, dancing and kickboxing. She has a black belt.”
But it was Nastasia’s singing teacher in Limerick’s Expressive Arts Centre who discovered the girl’s remarkable gift. “The teacher came to us the following day and said that the girl has a wonderful voice,” remembers Konstantin.
“I laughed because Nastia was just a four-year-old child. But a few months later this four-year-old was already singing solo on stage at the University of Limerick.”
He adds that he has “no idea” where the girl’s many talents come from. “Nobody in our family has ever been involved in show-business.”
Prior to being selected for the star role in Annie, Nastasia has been involved in several theatre and musical productions in Limerick. The girl also reached the finals of RTE Two’s young talent show DDN Star Search.

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